August 30th | text: John 6:41-59
There are many examples of food in the Bible being used as illustration, from meal preparation to the offer of food as hospitality. Eating and drinking are basic to all human life. Animals were not just sacrificed in the Old Testament by taken their life; they were cut up in very specific ways and cooked on the altar as a meal offered to God. The sacrifice system included grain and drink offerings. From the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3 to the marriage feast of the Lamb in Revelation 19, God’s people are found eating and drinking throughout the Bible. And if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: The Bible is about Jesus.
1. Bread is ancient. The first mention of bread in the Bible is Genesis 3:19. As God cursed the ground because of man’s sin he said “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread.” There is no historical account of the discovery of making bread; the process predates civilization. Loaves of bread were preserved in the ruins of Pompeii and archaeological digs have uncovered not only the ovens they used but also full color frescoes on the walls of daily activity including bread making. The way we make bread has not changed much in thousands of years. Before the days of refrigeration, freeze drying, preservatives and cellophane packaging, baking bread was a daily activity. The children of Israel in Moses’ time celebrating Passover by eating unleavened bread and earlier in John 6 Jesus miraculously fed a multitude with 5 loaves and 2 small fish. When Jesus talked about eating bread everyone knew what he was talking about because people have always eaten bread.
2. Eating bread is universal. Bread was ancient by the time of Jesus but it certainly has not disappeared since. Sliced bread was first marketed in 1928 and has since became a staple in the American marketplace; so simple an idea and universal in appeal we now refer to things as “the greatest since sliced bread.” From French baguettes to Mom’s buttermilk biscuits, if anything we have too much bread in our modern diet. Every morning Hardee’s is cooking biscuits fresh in their store and Subway is doing the same with their sub rolls. Olive Garden offers never ending bread sticks. Sit down at Longhorn’s and they bring you a loaf of bread on a cutting board and a big knife. McDonald’s have served over 250 billion hamburgers and every single one of those was on a… hamburger bun. Beef may be what’s for dinner but we will find some kind of bread to eat it with. From Marie Antoinette’s proclamation “Let them eat cake” to the Roman Empire’s bread and circuses, it a universal fact that people have always eaten bread and still do. Other examples Jesus used in his sermons and teachings – planting crops, gathering fish, pressing grapes, trimming lamps – may find an audience depending on who you’re talking to but eating bread is something every single one of us can relate to. So when it came time to explain his role in salvation, Jesus used his best analogy he had that would be understood by the most number of people, in the first as well as twenty-first century.
3. Jesus is life. God used manna to teach the Israelites in the wilderness that he provides for their needs daily, just as Jesus taught his disciples to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” Moses spoke to the stone in the desert that gave water and the Apostle Paul explains that rock was Jesus. His words are the very words of life. He had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again. The sacrifice of his life – the death of his body on the cross – brought salvation. The breaking of bread and drinking from the cup remind us that his body was broken and his blood spilled out. The language seems a little disturbing and somewhat graphic in verses 52 – 59 but he is extending the metaphor. At the beginning of John 6, Jesus blessed the loaves and fish and handed them out to multitude. Every person was filled. Jesus body was broken on the cross, his blood poured out, and his death brings life. We partake of Jesus when we receive salvation. The loaves and fish were blessed and broken the day the multitude was fed, the bread and the wine were blessed and passed around at the last supper, and Jesus was broken and offered up as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world. We partake of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we partake of life which Jesus freely offers to all who will receive.
Volumes of books have been written on Christian theology and some study it for a lifetime. But Jesus put everlasting life in terms that even a child can understand. Let us
Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)